February 28, 2011 vacant slot machines wait for gamblers to try their luck.
“Clkty” goes the coin into the gaping mouth of the ever hungry slot machine. The handle is pulled with a “chrrrchk” and returns upward with as much excitement as the gambler. Different colored bulbs burst with light with enough enthusiasm to make your head whirl. The lights flash in a constant rhythm of the machines “jing jing jing jing….”as the three wheels of fortune decide the worth of your quarter. The first drum reel slows and stops with the sound of a piece of chalk being snapped in half, a watermelon, the second chalk snap, a bell, and the third a cherry. Another “clkty” then the “chrrrk” the game begins again. Casinos are an issue all throughout the country, St. Louis is no different.
Down town St. Louis is home to five casinos: Ameristar Casino, Argosy’s Alto Belle Casino, Casino Queen, Harrah’s Casino, and
February 28, 2011 flashy lights illuminate the word casino at the entrance to the Lumiere Place.
Lumière Place Casino. Comparatively, St. Louis is rather new to the gambling scene. The first casino in St. Louis opened
in May 1994. As a result there has been a 14 % increase in crime surrounding St. Louis’s main gambling
strip. These casinos are seen as an opportunity for growth, development and to attract tourism but can sometimes come at a costly price. Casinos may bring some tourist dollars but they also have an effect on the social fabric, crime rate, and economic development in the community.
An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch 1997 reports that “Nearly half of St. Louis city’s gambling takes goes for police protection near the casino.” St. Louis city and county has seen an outstanding effect in several areas of offence between the opening of the casino district in 1994 and 2010. The most dramatic offense increases in St. Louis City cover the spectrum of robbery, larceny, arson, simple assault, embezzlement, sexual offenses, drug violations, family offense, and liquor violations. The four most dramatic are the increase in sexual offenses, drug violations, family offenses, and liquor violations. Liquor violations win the jackpot with an increase of almost 80%. Drug violations have seen an increase of 50%, followed by family offense at 30%, and sexual offenses at 21%. (Total Cost of Gambling Addiction) “I dislike working that area in summers on the weekends, the number of drunken squabbles I break up, it gets old fast” John Butler, metro police officer.
“Gambling is a lot of fun, and it’s an amazing feeling when you are winning….I cringe at the thought of how much (money) I have wasted over the years” state Joseph Penn, black jack gambler for years.
The Average St. Louis Gambler in Relation to the St. Louis Casinos:
February 28, 2011 hundreds or Missouri registered cars are parked outside of the casino on this Monday evening.
- They will visit a casino approximately seven times a year.
- Upon each visit, they will lose approximately 47 dollars
- There are 19.3 million people that visit those five casinos a year
o The locals constitute 7
2% or 13.8 million of the casinos patrons
The casinos bring in an average of $919.6 million, in reference to the previous statistics; $660.3 million will come from local pockets. These casinos are therefore only bringing in $259 million of tourist dollars. Like the slot machines they are sucking the St. Louisan’s dry and comparatively returning very little back to the community. The gambling revenue for the casinos is all ready
in the St. Louis Metropolitan economy.
The Casinos do have some benefit to the city though. Gambling, when conducted in moderation, can lead to a fun and exciting night. They make the down town of St. Louis a more entertaining place for a night out. When people do when large sums of money it can be life changing and a great feeling to earn a $100,000 off a dollar.
In conclusion, gambling is a fun night out that many St. Louisan’s and Americans alike chose to partake in, but it is always very important to look at the big picture in how they affect the fiber of any city. The question to ask is, are the casinos in St. Louis actually helping the city’s development. Upon this research, it is safe to say that they add some sparkle to the city when you cross the bridge into Missouri at night.